‘Homecoming Lamb’

I am no lover of the black stuff, so this was an interesting challenge to me. I brought the accompanying book to Caribbean Food Made Easy, and it was one of the first recipes in. When I saw Levi make it on his show, I saw how delicious it looked, and so decided to give it a shot myself. I was hoping for not Guinnessy, but treacly, warming, spicy, slightly bitter and unctuous. I got it, kind of, but I had to make a couple of tweaks because the recipe as was did not really offer me that. Levi says serve with Rice & Peas. Fair enough, I might in future but I fancied not-particularly-caribbean-mashed potato tonight which suited it amazingly well.  It was delicious. I’d be very happy if someone cooked this when I came home. Serves 2.

guiness

  • 4 lamb steaks, around 500g in total
  • 45 ml groundnut oil
  • 125ml Jamaican stout, or Guinness mixed with 1&1/2 tbsp of brown sugar
  • 75ml just boiled water
  • mint sprigs, to garnish

For the spice paste:

  • the leaves stripped from 3 good sprigs of thyme
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped mint
  • 2 spring onions, green part only, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli (1/2 scotch bonnet is suggested, but I’m too scared- if you do go down the scotch bonnet route, remove all the seeds and chop wearing gloves)
  • 6 allspice berries
  • juice of 2 limes (I had to use lemons, in all sincerity, due to my imagining I had limes when in fact I used them with thai fishcakes). Lemons were ok. Obviously limes would have been better.
  • salt and pepper, a fair amount
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Firstly, the book says to simply put all the spice paste ingredients into a pestle and mortar and pound into a paste. I’m normally quite willing to go along with the technique  in a recipe but this advice is just making work for yourself. Firstly, if you have a blender, put everything in there and whizz until you have a smoothish paste. If you do have to use a pestle and mortar, then what you should do is add all the dry ingredients first and grind it as finely as possible and then add your liquids and grind further until you have your paste. It’s just better that way. When you do have your paste, rub it into your lamb steaks and leave in a cool place for at least an hour. Overnight in the fridge is best.

When you’re ready to cook, heat the oil in a heavy based pan that comes with a lid. When the oil is hot, add the lamb steaks, put the lid on and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Swirl out the bowl with the  water and at the end of the 5 minutes, add the watered down marinade. Put the lid back on and cook for a further 5 minutes. Then add your stout, to which you have added your sugar and cook for a further 8 minutes on a medium high heat. Now, supposedly the sauce is ready, but it was still very thin for me at this stage. So what I did was remove steaks to warmed plates, and turned the heat right up on the sauce for around three-four minutes whilst I mashed the spuds and drained the peas to give the sauce an opportunity to reduce down. Serve the sauce over the lamb and scoff.

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Lettuce, Pea & Mint Soup

After last night’s delicious, but rather rich dinner, all I knew tonight was that I wanted something light and summery and green. And easy. Never underestimate easy on a Friday night. Soup was the logical choice and this lovely pea soup, which you could just as easily serve cold, is summer in a bowl for me. I’m estimating this would serve about 6 as a light lunch with bread. If you’re thinking of freezing any, as I am, do so before you’ve put in the creme fraiche.

soup ingredients

  • 650g frozen peas
  • 25og iceburg lettuce, shredded
  • 6 spring onions, peeled and chopped, including the greener bits if they’re not tough
  • 4 sprigs fresh mint
  • 900ml hot vegetable stock
  • 20g butter
  • lots of salt & pepper
  • tub of creme fraiche

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the spring onions, stirring well. Cook over a medium heat for about 4 minutes until they’re softened, add salt and pepper, two thirds of the mint, three quarters of the peas and all of the lettuce. Cook for about a minute and then add the stock. Cover and bring to the boil and cook for about 5 minutes until the peas are tender. Leave to cool, add the remaining mint and then, using a hand blender is easiest, whizz until smooth.  Push the soup through a sieve and then pour back into the pan and bring slowly back to the boil. Add in the remaining peas and cook for another 5 or so minutes.

pea and lettuce soup

Check seasoning, stir a dollop of creme fraiche through the soup and serve.